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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

I have been getting so much inspiration from Southern Living this summer. I’m not sure if maybe they’ve had a change in their food department or have just been focusing more on improving/freshening their food features but the recipes they have been publishing have been wonderful! I have a long list of things that I’d like to try from recent issues.

This Spiced Peach Carrot Bread was a “must make ASAP” and given the constant presence of peaches on my counter during the late summer months, I had all the ingredients on hand. I really enjoy quick breads and loved the idea of peach and carrot bread in lieu of the usual banana base.

I made some modifications to the original recipe. I doubled the spices, replaced some of the oil with Greek yogurt and added vanilla extract. The bread turned out beautifully and it’s so easy to prepare. You only need one bowl and no mixer! It was great on its own and it was especially tasty topped with almond butter for breakfast. This will definitely become a yearly summer staple.

Enjoy the last of the summer peaches (before we are bombarded with all things pumpkin and winter squash!) and make this recipe.

Spiced Peach Carrot Bread
(Recipe adapted from Southern Living – July 2011)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh peaches
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

Toast pecans either in the oven in a shallow pan for 8-10 minutes or on the stove top in a pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When they are fragrant and slightly darkened in color, they are ready. Allow to cool.

Stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the peaches, carrots, oil, yogurt, milk, eggs, vanilla and pecans and stir until just moistened and combined.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.

Yield: 1 loaf

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Recently I found myself with a fridge full of strawberries and the desire to make a dessert other than strawberry shortcake with them. Since I am a firm believer all fruit can be made even more delicious by topping it with a crunchy topping and serving it warm with a scoop of ice cream, I decided to try a crisp. (Case in point here and here.)

Off to the internet I went in search of a recipe. I was surprised to find that strawberry crisp recipes were scarce. Most involved the addition of rhubarb, which I was not interested in. So I did what any food blogger with an idea in their head would do, combined a couple of recipes to create exactly what I was looking for.

The results were wonderful! The strawberries were warm and sweet with a nice consistency and the topping was a great combination of a buttery oat mixture with toasted pecans.

We took the crisp to a friend’s house for a dinner party and it was a huge hit. And just as I expected, it was even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Don’t miss out on this one while strawberries are in season!

Strawberry Crisp
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook and Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BERRIES
3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

FOR THE TOPPING
1 cup oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:

Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish or small oval baker. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Add butter and mix in with your fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Stir in oats and nuts.

Place strawberry mixture in prepared baking dish and crumble topping over. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until topping is browned and strawberries are bubbly.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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Recently, I’ve had the baking bug. I attribute it to our staying in town on the weekends. We went through a four-week stint where we traveled every weekend. All of that traveling made my weeks crazy trying to cram everything in and prepare for the next weekend’s travel. I have loved being home on the weekends and back in the kitchen. Over the last couple weeks I’ve baked pumpkin chocolate chip bars, homemade crackers, peanut butter chocolate chip bars, pita bread (twice!) and these muffins.

The inspiration from these muffins came from a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree in my pantry that was calling my name. I came home one night and it was rainy and cool. I immediately headed to the kitchen and started paging through my favorite cookbooks for pumpkin muffin recipes. I found a Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook and decided to adapt it to be a bit healthier and muffin form.

The modifications I made included halving the recipe, subbing some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, reducing the sugar, cutting back on some of the oil in favor of applesauce and omitting the streusel-like topping in favor of a small sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. The muffins turned out great, even with the modifications! Usually Brandon can immediately tell when I’ve “healthified” things but he was totally on board with these and ate them every morning for breakfast.

I think my favorite thing about these muffins is the addition of  diced apple. How perfect is it that this recipe includes two of the best Fall baking ingredients!? These are a great change from my normal banana muffins and I will be baking them again this season!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
(Recipe heavily adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Very small pinch of cloves (1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 (of a 15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
Extra brown sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over the muffins before baking

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with liners (or cooking spray).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a separate medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between muffin tins, filling about 3/4 (or a tad more) full. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the tops of muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Muffins will keep for 3-5 days out or freeze well for a couple of months.

Yield: 12 muffins

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I am loving peach season this year. The South Carolina peaches that we are getting in Charlotte seem extra sweet and have the perfect texture. As a result, there has been an endless supply of peaches in our house. I just can’t stop buying them because I know the season will be over soon.

I made a peach cobbler a few weeks ago and have been eating peaches plain, with yogurt and in my oatmeal. I was thinking of new ways to serve the peaches and remembered that I’ve been wanting to try them grilled. I added them to the dinner menu one night when we were planning on grilling pork tenderloin. My original plan was to serve them alongside the pork but Brandon convinced me to have them for dessert topped with ice cream instead. I have a really hard time saying no to the idea of topping anything with ice cream! ;)

We really enjoyed the grilled peaches. The brown sugar and cinnamon caramelize on the peaches and they get a very slight smoke flavor. This recipe would be a perfect side item or dessert.I will definitely be asking Brandon to throw some peaches on the grill again before peach season ends!

One Year Ago: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Grilled Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Glazed Peaches
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 peaches
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat grill to medium. Cut peaches in half, twist to separate and remove the pit. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Brush peach halves with vegetable oil and grill (cut sides down) for 3-4 minutes with the lid down. Flip peaches over so that cut side is exposed and sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Grill for another 3-4 minutes, lid down, until brown sugar mixture has caramelized.

Serve as is or top with ice cream and sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Yield: 2 servings

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I love fig season but hate how short it is. I only had a few weeks this year to enjoy figs from my mother in law’s tree before they were ruined in a terrible storm (all of the fruit was bruised). I’m hoping we get a few more before the season is over but we’ll see. Fig season has been a big deal in my family for as long as I can remember. My dad used to pick buckets of them and make fig preserves every summer for my mom.

I came home from work one day last week and my mother in law had dropped off these Fresh Fig Bars. They were delicious. Kind of a cross between a Fig Newton and a traditional crumb bar. The fresh figs were truly the star of these bars.

I can’t wait to make these for my mom. I know she will love them. If you have access to fresh figs, these bars are a great way to use them!

One Year Ago: Fig Upside Down Cake (told ya I love fig season!)

Fresh Fig Bars
(Recipe adapted from Group Recipes)

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh figs
1 cup water
1 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup butter (or shortening)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 cups sifted flour
3 cups oats

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, combine figs, water, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and lemon peel. Simmer about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Combine the 2 tablespoons of flour and water and stir into fig mixture. Let cook five minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and oats and fold into butter mixture. Pat half of oatmeal mixture into bottom of pan and spread fig filling evenly over. Sprinkle remainder of oatmeal mixture over the filling and press lightly with a fork.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and then cut into squares and serve.

Yield: 16 squares

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Cobblers and crisps are the highlight of summer desserts for me. I love that so much fresh fruit is available,  that you can mix and match fruits based on what you have on hand and I love how easy they are to prepare. If I had to pick a favorite, it would definitely be peach cobbler. After all, I did grow up in Georgia!

The farmer’s markets here have been overflowing with South Carolina peaches. After a few weeks of eating peaches plain, with yogurt and on oatmeal, I developed quite a craving for peach cobbler with ice cream. I prefer cobblers with a biscuit topping rather than the pie crust topping and this recipe from Southern Living looked perfect for my peach cobbler craving.

It was very easy to assemble (like the name implies) and the most time intensive part of the whole process was peeling and slicing the peaches. I halved the original recipe because it would be trouble if we had a whole batch in the house! The half recipe was perfect for about five servings.

This peach cobbler was wonderful served warm with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream! I will be keeping this recipe on hand for when I need a quick cobbler fix!

One Year Ago: Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
Another Favorite Peach Dessert: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Easy Peach Cobbler
(Recipe source Southern Living)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter and pour into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar (I reduced this a bit – used more like 3/4 cup), peach slices and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm with ice cream.

Yield: 10 servings

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My mother in law celebrated a birthday last week and of course I volunteered to bring the cake. (Remember last year’s Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling?) Typically, the girls in the family prefer fruitier desserts while the guys are all about chocolate. I am firmly in the fruity cake camp so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go with this cake. I’ve mentioned before that I have a tough time deciding what to make (I will browse recipes for hours) so I was excited when my sister in law suggested a cake with fresh blueberries.

Luckily, my Google search for blueberry layer cake didn’t yield too many results. I trust anything that Epicurious posts on their site so I was sold on Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting as soon as I saw it and noticed it received over 100 positive reviews.

I totally must disclose that this is not a light and fluffy cake. It’s pretty dense and I was scared to death when I was removing it from the pan and frosting it that everyone would hate it. I typically prefer a light, airy cake and this is not that. I was so surprised that it ended up being moist and the texture worked with this cake. Everyone really enjoyed the cake and raved over the flavor. My friend Catherine also made the cake for her mother in law’s birthday after reading about it on my healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Runner, and it was also a hit with her family.

The only modification that I made to the recipe was to increase the lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the frosting. I knew that I wanted a pronounced lemon flavor and some of the reviews suggested increasing the lemon. I will most definitely be baking this cake again. It’s such a fun (and ridiculously delicious) way to use fresh, local summer blueberries.

Make this before blueberry season ends! You’ll be happy you did! :)

One Year Ago: Coconut Cake with Lime Curd Filling

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Recipe source Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (double for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

FOR THE FROSTING
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (I used a little less)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for more lemon flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8- or 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and set aside.
Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to separate bowl and add fresh blueberries. Toss with flour to coat and set and blueberries and remaining flour mixture aside.

Stir together whole milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon peel in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat butter in until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.) Gently fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

FOR THE FROSTING
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar (tasting as you go – you might not want all four cups of powdered sugar due to sweetness). Beat in lemon peel, juice if using and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE CAKE
Transfer one cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.) Decorate cake as desired and serve.

Yield: 10-12 servings

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